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Differences of Table Manners between China and the


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西南大学本科生课程论文
论文题目:The Comparison of Table Manners between China and the West 课程名称:跨文化交际导论 任课教师:杨杰 专 班 学 姓 业:英语师范 级:师范 2 班 号:222013310011202 名:赵雅洁
2016 年 1 月 2 日

西南大学外国语学院制

The Comparison of Table Manners between China and the West
ZHAO Yajie
Abstract: Difficult countries have different table manners, which can reflect a country’s customs and cultures. China has a long history of table manners. With the development of economy, there are more and more attention to manners between China and the West. Especially the importance of table manners is more highlighted.So this paper talks about differences of table manners between China and the West and its reasons.The differences between Chinese and western culture is historical rather than natural, such as usage of tableware, seating arrangement, the dining atmosphere and table language.And Intercultural comparative study is the basic method to study table manners. This paper is written in order to protect our excellent table manners and communicate and absorb those in western countries. Key words: table manners; culture; differences; China; western countries

I. Introduction
Table manner is an important part of cross-cultural communication. Chinese and Western people have been deeply influenced by different social cultures, historical cultures and various social backgrounds, so two different cultures between China and Western countries generate, and then table culture arises so fast at the historic moment. Table manner culture is a part of the diet culture, and the differences of diet culture composed the significant part of differences between China and western cultures. For foreign language learners, learning the differences of table manners between China and the West, not only can we enhance the understanding of the target language culture, but also can perform well during cross-cultural communication. With the development of China, more and more Western cultures get into our sight. As we face with unfamiliar cultures and countries, some inevitable cultural conflicts might happen in the communication, which will seriously affect the contacts being

carried out smoothly. Table manner has a decisive position in the communication between China and Western countries. During communication we will show our best images and avoid cultural conflicts.

II. Differences of table manners
Table manner plays an important role in cross-cultural communication, so I will pay more attention to differences. Then, I will introduce different table manners between China and western countries in four aspects: usage of tableware, seating arrangement, the dining atmosphere and table language.

A. Usage of tableware
As we all know, Chinese people use knives, forks, scoops and chopsticks and we almost use chopsticks in most of time. But western people use knives and forks more. So we can say that knives, forks and chopsticks are basic different table manners. According to some researches, this difference refers to different circumstances. In ancient China, there are lots of woods in the north and some bamboos in the south, so Chinese people invented chopsticks by use of woods and bamboos. Knives and forks emerged later than chopsticks. In western countries, ancient people were nomads, which means they must roamed about and brought knives to feed and protect themselves. So they began to eat by use of knives. After that, they invented different kinds of knives to help themselves to eat food conveniently. Different usages of tableware lead to different eating habits. And they also affect different concepts of life. In China, people use chopsticks and share food with other people, which makes Chinese people attach importance to their family members and friends. In western countries, they use knives and forks to eat on their own, which can foster their senses of independence. Children in the west want to be independent and stay away from their parents. There are also some restrictions. For example, people are prohibited to play with chopsticks, and people should put their knives and forks on the table when they want to talk.

B. Seating arrangement

Both China and western countries take seats arrangement seriously. Square tables are necessary on a traditional Chinese dinner. The place which is face to door is considered to belong to noble people or old people , and the rest of seats belong to low people. Western people often use long tables to treat their guests. The hosts sit on two ends of the table, and guests sit on two long sides of table. In China, left, upper and middle seats are honorable and right, down and remote seats are low. In western countries, right seats are honorable. There are some etiquette you should notice. First, you should reach your seat from the left. When you sit, you shouldn’t put your elbows on the table. Second, you had better not leave during the dinner. If you have to, you should tell the people beside you. Third, when you are eating, you must sit straightly and elongate your neck .Put your the upper arms and back lean on the chair. And remember keeping your abdomen away from the ding-table. Last but no least, don’t bend your waist to get food. That is to say, you should put food into your mouth.

C. The dining atmosphere
The most different table manner between China and western countries is the dining atmosphere. Chinese people like boisterous atmosphere while western people like quiet atmosphere. Chinese people think eating is very important ,so they often devote particular care to eating atmosphere and purse ostentation and extravagance. They will make different kinds of food with some wine on the table. And hosts will force guests eat more to show their enthusiasm. The eating atmosphere with noise and excitement can reflect hosts’ and guests’ happiness. This happiness stands for a phenomenon of happy families, good relationships with surrounding people and common faiths. What’s more, people may accomplish their negotiations with someone during eating. In the west, people eat food on their on plate quietly, even though they drink soups. They ruminate food with a shut mouth. That is to say, they can’t open mouth to mull over food. Talking with people beside you is allowed, but the voice should be low and shouldn’t be heard by the third one.

D. Table language

In China, when host treat guests, he or she will make different kinds of dishes, at least seven or eight dishes. If it’s a big party, he or she may use some expensive and rare materials to make food in order to show his or her zeal and guests’ position. Even if that, they usually say to guests, for example,“ Sorry, I don’t have good dishes to treat you.””My talent of making food is poor, but don’t care about it. And you should eat as much as possible.””Sorry, I can’t treat you well.” In west, the host will make four or five dishes to treat his or her guests and says to them” I have put all the things I have to treat.” If guests eat all food, the host will be happy and thinks they like his or her dishes. According to different words people use in the dinner, we can get that Chinese people follow the principle of belittling themselves, while western people emphasize efficiency and pragmatism. In a meal, western people use some words or sentences to replace toilet, for example, “Where can I wish my hand?” “I wonder if I could go somewhere.” “ Can I add some powder?” In addition, when Chinese people meet with each other by accident, they may ask “ Have you eaten?” But in the west, people don’t do that. They think that may mislead people because “ Have you eaten?” means you want to treat the people you meat in western countries. Especially, when you both are singular, that means you want to date the person you meat.

III. Reasons of different table manners between China and the West
A. Different ways of thinking
Different ways of thinking come from different cultures, traditions, religions, ways of production and philosophies. Chinese tend to comprehensive thoughts while western people tend to individual thoughts. Chinese people attach importance to collectivism while Western people value individualism and self. For example, when a student asks optional questions in class, Chinese teacher may stop to hold her or him back. When the same phenomenon appears in the west, the teacher may praise him or her.

B. Different values
They have different or opposite values, which are core of communicating. Western people’s value is individualism while Chinese people’s value is collectivism. Chinese people purse stability in the changing society while western people purse changes in the stable society.

IV. Conclusion
I have compared the differences of table manners between China and the West including usage of tableware, seating arrangement, the dining atmosphere and table language. And then, I exposes the reasons for the differences of table manners between China and the West. That are differences of Chinese and Western way of thinking, and differences of Chinese and Western values. Although there are some different table manners in different areas, we should hold to the differences of table manners between China and West. In a word, there are so many excellent cultures in China, so we should inherit and carry forward our excellent culture. Of course, we also need to accept and learn foreign excellent culture, namely “get rid of shortcoming, take in advantage.” In China’s rapid economic growth, we should improve our cultural soft power so that enhance our comprehensive national strength.

Works Cited
Strauss,C. L. 1990.The Origin of Table Manners. University Of Chicago Press. Post, E. L. 1997.In honor of etiquette.上海外语教学与研究出版。 Visser, Margaret. 1992.The Rituals of Dinner. Penguin USA. 卞浩宇,2004,论中西饮食文化的差异,《南京林业大学学报》(人文社科版)。 陈华,2011,中西方餐桌文化对比,.《大家谈》第 6 期。 段洁,2007,《餐桌礼仪与口才》。 北京: 中国经济出版社。 李明英,1997,社会习俗与饮食文化,《锦州师范学院学报》。 刘越莲,2000,,礼貌与跨文化交际,《外语教学》第 1 期。 彭健,2009,浅议中西餐桌礼仪差异,《新西部》 第 6 期 。 万建中,1995,中西饮食习俗差异论,《民俗研究》第 2 期。 宛梦君,2011,从餐桌上的文化冲突看中西文化差异,《文化纵横》第 5 期。 余峰,2012,筷子与叉子—餐桌礼仪中的中西文化差异,《赤峰学院学报》33 卷,4 期。 於奇,2008,《中西饮食文化差异概论》。 北京:北京大学出版社。 詹德华&丛中啸,2006,《餐桌礼仪》。北京:接力出版社。


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